In the post below, Executive Vice President Eric Cochling talks about a recent visit with leaders in Washington D.C. and how GCO’s work is being noticed on Capitol Hill.
I have to admit that last week was a tiring whirlwind of activity, but it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to inform and influence federal policy.
I spent most of last week in Washington, DC taking part in meetings with the Department of Labor, the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Trade Commission, various House and Senate offices, and the domestic policy staff of the White House.
Each meeting was focused on the need to get more American’s back to work and the way state organizations, like GCO, are working to make that goal a reality. Of particular interest was what the federal government can and should do to help states remove barriers to employment.
I was able to present to the leaders in the various offices on the research and community-based work that GCO is doing to address joblessness.
The topics we discussed included:
- How states, with the federal governments encouragement, can expand apprenticeship opportunities for high school students who are not college-bound and need a pipeline into work,
- Welfare reforms that will move people to self-sufficiency, including simplifying the system, requiring and incentivizing work across all programs, and removing disincentives to family formation,
- Ways to remove systemic barriers to employment found in state laws, including those that needlessly restrict vocational licensing and access to driver’s licenses,
- Local initiatives, like GCO’s Hiring Well, Doing Good, that are designed to help reinvigorate the local, community-based response to helping people find work.
While politics are more polarized than I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, I was heartened by what appeared to be genuine interest in practical ways to help reinvigorate local, civil society answers to unemployment.
I was also encouraged by a consistent message that the federal government is looking to states to solve problems like this and are actively working – via welfare reform and other policy changes – to give back to the states the authority to tackle these problems effectively.
It is time for state leaders to prepare themselves to take on these tough issues and GCO stands ready to help.